“If there’s nothing there, then what are Republicans afraid of?”

House Republicans shot down an effort to finally make President Donald Trump’s tax returns public.

trump-irs

President Donald Trump’s tax returns will remain a secret.

Rep. Barbara Lee ✔ @RepBarbaraLee: . “HouseGOP just voted to conceal Trump’s TaxReturns & conflicts of interest from the American people. This is despicable.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed Republicans for blocking efforts to release the documents.

“If there’s nothing there, then what are Republicans afraid of?” she said.

Nancy Pelosi @NancyPelosi: The @HouseGOP are officially accomplices in the effort to hide POTUS’ tax returns from Americans.

Pelosi Statement on Republican Vote to Keep Trump’s Tax Returns Secret – Democratic Leader Nancy…

“Tonight, House Republicans made themselves accomplices to hiding President Trump’s tax returns from the American people.”

Trump is the first president in modern history to not release his federal tax returns. He blamed the decision on an IRS audit, even though the bureau has said it’s fine for him to release them anyway. He has also said that Americans don’t care about his taxes, a statement that polls have repeatedly disproven.

Demands for Trump to release information about his finances have not gone away since he took office. A White House petition demanding that the returns be made public has received over 1 million signatures.

Democrats have said that the president’s tax returns could help clear up his relationship with Russia following reports that the country meddled in the U.S. election to help Trump win.

Earlier on Monday, reporters asked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) if Congress would consider issuing a subpoena over the returns.

“No, we’re not gonna do that,” Nunes said.

resolution

 

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on Monday proposed a resolution to invoke an obscure law allowing the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee for review. But the House voted 229-185, almost exclusively on party lines, to reject the effort.

The House used the law in 2014 during its investigation into the IRS’ treatment of tea party groups.

Pascrell first raised the idea of using the law again earlier this month, but was shot down by the Ways and Means committee chair, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas.)

“If Congress begins to use its powers to rummage around in the tax returns of the president, what prevents Congress from doing the same to average Americans?,” Brady told Politico at the time.

 

Trump commander in chief, first test: FAIL!  

william-ryan-owens

Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) blasted Pres. Donald Trump on Sunday regarding the botched Jan. 28 raid in Yemen that killed 29 civilians and Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens — the first U.S. armed forces member to die under the Trump administration.

On Sunday, the New York Times launched a media counteroffensive against Trump’s repeated attacks on the newspaper and on the mainstream media in general.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying, For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!”

Rep. Lieu saw the tweet and answered, writing, Note to @realDonaldTrump: Perhaps if you focused less on @nytimes and more on intelligence reports, SEAL Owens wouldn’t be dead right now.”

He followed up by saying, I & others requested answers about #Yemen raid & death of SEAL Owens. @POTUS is stonewalling. What did Trump know?”

The posts included a link to a post at TheHill.com about Lieu and other Democrats’ demand to be briefed on exactly what happened on the night of the raid and where the planning went awry.

Ted Lieu  @tedlieu: Note to @realDonaldTrump: Perhaps if you focused less on @nytimes and more on intelligence reports, SEAL Owens wouldn’t be dead right now.”

ted-lieu

U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, 33rd Congressional District of California, Democratic Party

https://www.google.com/amp/thehill.com/policy/defense/317640-dems-ask-for-briefing-on-deadly-yemen-raid%3Famp

According to the Independent, Pres. Trump’s mishandled the raid that killed Owens from the outset. It was planned without sufficient intelligence, ground support or backup and Trump himself didn’t bother to report to the Situation Room during the raid, but in the White House residence, a break with longtime protocol.

William Owens, Sr., father of the fallen SEAL told the Miami Herald on Sunday that he wants a full investigation into the “stupid mission” that killed his son.

Owens, Sr. refused to meet with Trump when his son’s remains were flown back to Dover Air Force Base.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” he told Trump via the Herald. “I want an investigation.”

“The government owes my son an investigation,” he said.

Currently, a controversy is swirling around a reportedly sent-and-deleted tweet from the president’s account that was sent about half an hour into the firefight that killed Owens.

Huffington Post and the Daily Mail both say that Trump or an aide tweeted at 5:50 p.m., “I will be interviewed by @TheBrodyFile on @CBNNews tonight at 11pm. Enjoy!” The tweet was up for around twenty minutes and purportedly then got deleted.

Jeff Sessions has a new “after harvest” vacation spot picked out for you

supermax

Hey wait! I thought you said this was a discount flight to Cabo

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave the green light to the continued use of privately run prisons, even though the Obama administration had moved to phase them out as no longer necessary given the declining prison population. Sessions said in a memo that the last administration went against long-standing Justice Department policy and practice and “impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”

On the same day, the White House suggested he’d more aggressively go after marijuana.

“It’s pretty safe to say that most people assume that the Sessions Justice Department is likely to scale back some of the reforms that were implemented under the Obama administration,” said Nancy La Vigne, director of the justice policy center at the Urban Institute. Sessions, who said last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” warned at his January confirmation hearing that illegal drugs were bringing “violence, addiction and misery” to America, and he pledged to dismantle drug trafficking gangs.

He did sponsor legislation to reduce sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine — a gap seen as disadvantaging black defendants. But last year, Sessions opposed bipartisan criminal justice overhaul efforts and has said that eliminating or reducing mandatory minimum sentences weakens the ability of law enforcement to protect the public.

That focus on drug crimes surfaced in the 1980s when Sessions served as United States attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. Drug cases accounted for 40 percent of his office’s convictions, according to a Brennan Center analysis, with Sessions overseeing the prosecution of defendants, including Key West, Florida, residents who smuggled marijuana into Alabama aboard a shrimp boat.

Tougher enforcement of drug laws could be welcomed by some law enforcement officials, including Justice Department prosecutors who felt hamstrung in recent years in their ability to seek long sentences.

from Washington Post and AP

Uncle Jefferson Beauregard Sessions jr wants you 

uncle-sam

 

Listen to Mr. Sulu from Star Trek

 

dump-trump

“Star Trek” actor and activist George Takei shared a tweet on Thursday that shows why the battle for equal protection for transgender people is about more than just restrooms.

Some know me as Mr. Sulu from Star Trek but I hope all know me as a believer in, and a fighter for, the equality and dignity of all human beings.

Learn from our past,                 Please.

Mr. Sulu Nails it.               George Takei Destroys Anti-Trans Arguments, and in only 11 words, this simple message shows why people who are opposed to trans rights are on the wrong side of history:

 

bathrooms

The message in the tweet is similar to a sentiment shared in signs at rallies held in support of equal rights for trans people.

The 79-year-old also sent a followup tweet:

Imagine you had to use the restroom of the opposite sex everywhere. Might you not feel endangered, awkward, afraid even to go out publicly?

restroom

Awesome Facebook page:     Fuck Donald Trump @fucdonaldtrump

https://www.facebook.com/fucdonaldtrump/

are-you-sick

 

The real losers in Trump’s new war on weed……………cops

cops-and-weed

Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated the federal government would start cracking down on recreational marijuana. Spicer’s statement reflects Department of Justice head Jeff Sessions’ stated views on pot—in several Congressional hearings, the former Senator denounced legalization and (wrongly) linked the drug to heroin addiction. Still, yesterday’s press conference may have come as an unnerving surprise to legal pot advocates, who’d hoped the industry’s profitability would shield it from the federal government in states where it’s legal.

“Trump seems insistent on throwing the marijuana market underground, wiping out tax-paying jobs and eliminating billions of dollars in taxes,” Ethan Nadelmann, the Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “As for connecting marijuana to the legal opioid crisis, Spicer has it exactly backwards. Greater access to marijuana has actually led to declines in opioid use, overdoses and other problems.”

trump-and-weed

But there’s another group, which the administration claims to have great respect for that loses out any time the drug war is ramped up: cops.

Lori Chassee, a retired criminal investigator who worked outside of Chicago, tells Raw Story that based on her experience, not only is policing marijuana a colossal waste of time and energy, it actually decreases public safety and puts police in danger.

“If you’ve got someone fearful of arrest and of prosecution, they might get desperate and that does put officers in a higher risk position,” Chassee says. “Beyond that, leaving the distribution of drugs in the criminal element is going to present a danger to public and police officers.”

She points out that legalization leads to a drop in violence associated with illegal drugs, since profitable black markets give people the incentive to “kill and die,” Chassee says. “Anything  we can do to minimize that makes us all safer.”

But the drug war has collateral damage far beyond the physical violence manifesting in places in places like Chicago, which the President has pledged to make safer.

Chassee, who now speaks on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, decided she was finished with the drug war after participating in an undercover operation targeting a marijuana dealer. He was their main target, she says—problem was, he was savvy enough to send his young girlfriend to make the sales, so in the end the large scale bust brought down a young mother. The state took her child away and she went to prison.

“To this day I don’t know if she was ever reconnected with her child,” Chassee says.  “So who’s paying the biggest penalty here? She is, for love of a dirtbag. This just isn’t right.”

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/heres-how-trumps-anti-weed-crackdown-puts-cops-in-danger-according-to-a-former-police-officer/

 

A sneak preview of the Trump administration’s economic future

kochtopia

 Brownback created a Kochtopia in Kansas.

An ambitious effort by a Republican governor to drastically cut his state’s taxes is crumbling—and that’s a bad omen for Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress who are hoping to slash tax rates at the national level.

Shortly after he became governor of Kansas in 2011, Sam Brownback went to work on rewriting the state’s tax code. Together with the Republican-dominated legislature, he eliminated the top income tax bracket, lowered everyone else’s income tax rate, and created a loophole that allowed some business owners to pay no state income taxes at all.

Brownback sold the cuts as a way to jolt the Kansas economy to life, promising major job growth thanks to the lower tax rates. To pass these tax measures, Brownback worked to replace moderate Republicans in the legislature who opposed his ideas with true-believer conservatives. He helped knock off nine moderate Republican incumbents, and the effort paid off when his tax reform passed in 2012.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/sam-brownback-kansas-paul-davis

But instead of the miracle growth that Brownback promised, the tax cuts have left a widening crater in the state budget. State economic growth has lagged behind the national pace, and job growth has stagnated. Lawmakers have been left scrambling each year to pass unpleasant spending cuts when tax revenue comes in below expected levels, leading to contentious fights in the legislature and state courts over reduced public school funding. When the state legislature convened last month, it faced a $320 million budget shortfall that needed to be closed before the end of the current fiscal year in June—and a projected additional $500 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.

After more moderate Republicans joined the GOP-dominated legislature following last November’s election, the party has appeared more willing to concede defeat and ditch Brownback’s tax experiment. Last week, the state House and Senate passed a bill that would generate more than $1 billion by eradicating most of Brownback’s reforms. It would raise personal income tax rates (though still not as high as the pre-Brownback rates) and end the loophole that has allowed 330,000 business owners—including subsidiaries of Wichita-based Koch Industries—to avoid paying income taxes.

The fate of that bill is still in doubt. Brownback vetoed the measure on Wednesday morning, after explaining, “I am vetoing it because the legislature failed to fulfill my request that they find savings and efficiencies before asking the people of Kansas for more taxes.” But the House quickly fought back, voting 85-40 to override the veto. But late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate fell three votes short of the the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the law without Brownback’s approval, leaving the fate of the state’s tax system uncertain.

So what’s all of this got to do with Trump? Brownback’s failures could complicate national tax-reform efforts, which have been high on the Trump administration’s agenda. “Lowering the overall tax burden on American business is big league,” Trump told airline executives earlier this month. “That’s coming along very well. We’re way ahead of schedule, I believe. And we’re going to announce something I would say over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal in terms of tax.”

trump

Like many of Trump’s policy plans, his tax agenda remains largely a mystery. But the proposal he outlined during the presidential campaign shared many features with Brownback’s experiment. It would slash personal income tax rates and reduce the number of brackets. It wouldn’t eliminate business income taxes, but it would lower them to 15 percent, allowing many super-wealthy Americans to avoid paying high tax rates by funneling their income through their businesses.

That’s not entirely coincidental. Trump and Brownback share a tax guide: Reaganomics guru Art Laffer. Laffer is best known for the Laffer curve, a diagram of his hypothesis that lowering tax rates could increase tax revenue by boosting economic output. Kansas paid $75,000 for Laffer to spend three days consulting with lawmakers on the state’s tax plans. Laffer also visited Trump Tower to consult on tax reform last year, and in December he called Trump’s campaign tax plans “terrific.” When Trump’s treasury secretary nominee went before the Senate last month, Trump’s transition press office emailed reporters a list of endorsements that started with glowing praise from Laffer. “Steven Mnuchin is a wonderful choice for Treasury Secretary,” Laffer said. “He has a great understanding of finance, markets, and housing. He is committed to tax reform that will get our economy growing, create jobs, and make America the best place to do business.”

By now, it’s clear that Brownback’s tax experiment hasn’t produced the growth he promised. But that hasn’t put an end to Republican efforts to replicate it on the national level. In December, Brownback suggested to the Wall Street Journal that Kansas’ tax reforms could offer a model for Trump. And on Thursday morning, Brownback is scheduled to speak—almost certainly about his taxation model—at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, on a panel titled “How Governors are Reclaiming America’s Promise.”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/sam-brownback-kansas-tax-cuts-donald-trump

 

The Republicans’ Putin “love fest”and dead men tell no tales

vladimir-putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is fast becoming a more polarizing figure among Americans than ever before as both his approval and disapproval ratings are soaring.

Despite receiving highly negative press over his government’s alleged sponsoring of hacks on the U.S. electoral process last year, a Gallup poll shows 22 percent of U.S. citizens hold a favorable view of Putin. Although far from his career-best U.S. approval rating of 41 percent in the nascency of his first term in 2002, his approval is at a peak for his current third term.

Putin’s disapproval rating, however, is 72 percent—equaling his record from 2015.

According to Gallup, different views of Putin are a partisan matter in the U.S., with independents warming to him over the last two years (by 11 points) and Republicans, once the bulwark of criticism against Putin, warming to him even more strongly (by 20 points.) He lost favor with Democrats by five points.

Republican President Donald Trump has reiterated his personal admiration for Putin’s leadership skills and vowed to seek improved relations with Russia. He has not indicated exactly how he envisions “getting along” with Russia and at what cost.

Russia itself, however, has reached a record-high unfavorability rating among Americans (70 percent), with only 28 percent of U.S. citizens holding a positive view of the country.

http://www.newsweek.com/under-trump-american-approval-putin-grows-559502

maria-butina

Maria Butina is a Russian central bank staffer, a gun rights advocate, and connection between D.C. Republicans and Russia

Dead men tell no tales.

These nine Russians have either been murdered, died suddenly or vanished into the depths of the Lubyanka prison in the last two months

1: Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN. officially of a heart attack. Feb 20, 2017.

2: Sergei Krivov, employee of Russian consulate in NY. Officially of heart attack despite his skull having been bashed in. May have fallen from consulate roof. Feb. 15, 2017

3, 4, 5: Kaspersky employee Ruslan Stoyanov and FSB officers who specialised in cyber security, Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev. Sergei Mikhailov were charged with treason. Mikhailov was dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head, and is now now almost certainly dead. Odds are the other two gentlemen followed close behind. Jan 23, 2017

6: Andrey Melanin, Russian Consul in Greece was found dead in his Athens apartment. Jan 9, 2017

7: Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB General who had helped Chris Steele assemble the infamous dossier. Found dead in the trunk of his car in Moscow. Dec. 26, 2016

  1. Andrey Karlov, Russian Ambassador to Turkey, murdered on live television. Dec. 20 2016
  2. Petr Polshikov Russian diplomat, was found shot to death in Moscow. Dec. 20, 2016 (just after Karlov’s murder).

Some have been connected to the Steele dossier,(but not all have been confirm yet). Nonetheless, this is a lot of sudden exits.

Various sources including Newsday

 

More tests needed on Russian UN ambassador’s cause of death

vitaly-churkin

A picture of Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, is displayed while people sign condolences books at the Russian Mission to the U.N. in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. The city medical examiner was expected to perform an autopsy Tuesday on Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., who died a day earlier after falling ill at his office at Russia’s U.N. mission. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Medical examiners who performed an autopsy on Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday that more tests are needed to determine how and why he fell ill in his office and later died.

Vitaly Churkin, who died Monday at a hospital at age 64, had been Russia’s envoy at the U.N. since 2006. He was the longest-serving ambassador on the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful body.

City medical examiners concluded Churkin’s death needed further study, which usually includes toxicology and other screenings. Those can take weeks.

The medical examiner is responsible for investigating deaths that occur by criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly or when the person seemed healthy or in any unusual or suspicious manner. Most of the deaths investigated by the office are not suspicious.

Churkin’s case was referred to the medical examiner’s office by the hospital.

Moscow has not given a date for Churkin’s funeral.

Churkin’s death brought condolences from diplomats and leaders around the world, with Republican U.S. President Donald Trump calling him “an accomplished diplomat.”

“While American officials sometimes disagreed with their Russian counterparts, Ambassador Churkin played a crucial role in working with the United States on a number of key issues to advance global security,” Trump said in a statement.

Churkin’s counterparts mourned him as a master in their field, saying he was deeply knowledgeable about diplomacy and dedicated to his country while also being a personable and witty colleague.

The U.N. Security Council held a moment of silence Tuesday in Churkin’s memory. The honor was announced by the ambassador from the country holding the Security Council’s rotating presidency, Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has backed separatist rebels fighting government forces.

Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko didn’t add his own statement to the tributes to Churkin, though Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin gave condolences when reporters asked afterward.

Associated PressFebruary 21, 2017

https://www.yahoo.com/news/colleagues-mourn-sudden-death-russian-051527347.html